I love the title of the new book by veteran journalist George Anders, You Can Do Anything: The Surprising Power of a ‘Useless’ Liberal Arts Education, which goes on sale today.
I would say that, as a history and political science graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the renowned computer-science school. Anders, for many years a reporter at The Wall Street Journal, also is a member of the humanities club: He studied economics at Stanford.
My bias notwithstanding, this book arrives at a critical time. For a couple decades now the stars of Silicon Valley have been engineers and coders, nerds whose skills have been highly prized. Yet more and more the technology industry is suffering from an empathy deficit. Enter Anders, who argues that “creativity, curiosity, and empathy are the job skills of the future.”
You Can Do Anything is part how-to for humanities types. It offers practical advice, like the relative uselessness of sending out blind resumes and the huge value of networking among alumni and accepting—and then crushing—part-time and other entry-level positions.
Anders also tells stories about liberal arts students made good. These include Josh Sucher, an anthropology graduate whom Etsy put to work interviewing customers to learn what crafts might sell well. He explains how IBM turned to Oliver Meeker, a sociology major, to explain to non-technical corporate clients the dastardly difficult-to-understand concept of the blockchain. “You don’t want an engineer on this,” says Anders. He revels in the story of Andy Anderegg, an English major who wrote snappy copy for Groupon on her way to becoming a highly paid digital audience development consultant.
Anders isn’t so much arguing that a humanities background is better than more practical educational pursuits as he’s making the case that the liberal-arts-inclined needn’t panic about their lack of hirable skills. More, he wants to persuade fellow parents of college-age children not to hem in their future job seekers by pushing them to study subjects that don’t interest them.
These are important words of wisdom by a skilled storyteller and a sharp observer of the human condition.
Moving forward. Uber co-founder and board member Garrett Camp says former CEO Travis Kalanick isn’t returning to the company, despite some recent rumors. “Uber must evolve and mature as we improve our culture and practices, to achieve our mission of bringing mobility to everyone,” Campo said in an email to employees.
Moving forward, part II. Google fired the author of a sexist manifesto. CEO Sundar Pichai told employees that the 10-page missive was found to “violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.” The previously unnamed author, engineer James Damore, outed himself in an email to Bloomberg and said he may sue the company.
P@ssw0rd security. Another controversial author now sees the error of his ways. Bill Burr, who wrote some of the most influential advice about selecting passwords, now admits he was completely wrong. Forcing people to choose incomprehensible passwords with numbers and punctuation marks and requiring them to make a new password every 90 days actually hurts security, Burr tells the Wall Street Journal. “Much of what I did I now regret,” he says.
Third best. Netflix on Monday bought comics publisher Millarworld, which is not quite as successful as DC or Marvel but has developed some famous heroes like Kingsman. The deal will let Netflix make new shows and movies using Millarworld characters, but doesn’t include some comics already made into movies like Kingsman. Get ready for Jupiter’s Legacy and Empress.
In litigation. Who says the wheels of justice move slowly? Only eight years after IBM was fired by the state of Indiana for mucking up a welfare computer system overhaul, a state judge ruled the tech giant must pay $78 million. So the case is finally over? IBM said it would appeal.
Dead cat bounce. LendingClub and OnDeck Capital posted better-than-expected quarterly results and their stock prices jumped 6% and 18%, respectively. With all the troubles the online lenders have faced over the past few years, that leaves their stocks just 61% and 75% below their IPO prices, respectively.
Best computer for right now. In what might be a controversial take for some Mac fans, Vlad Savov has a rave review at The Verge of Lenovo’s latest flagship laptop, the Thinkpad Carbon X1, which he says comes at a time when “Apple has made its MacBook line worse, not better.”
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Depressed enough yet from reading about the harms of our smartphone-driven culture? After last week’s blast about kids, here’s one about adults. The web site Open Culture has compiled some of the latest research on the effects of mobile technology, distraction and information overload. But there’s good news, or at least good advice, buried within from Stanford researcher Emma Seppälä:
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
IBM Claims Big Breakthrough in Deep Learning by Barb Darrow
New Drone Footage From Over Tesla’s Massive Gigafactory by John Patrick Pullen
1 in 2 People Say They Won’t Fly In a Fully Automated Aircraft by Andrew Nusca
Apple Joins the Instagram Game as iPhone 8 Rumors Swirl by Natasha Bach
T-Mobile Discounts Mobile Phone Service For Baby Boomers by Aaron Pressman
Twilio Stock Soars on Second Quarter Revenue Surge by John Patrick Pullen
BEFORE YOU GO
I must be hungry because I’m reading a lot of food news this morning. Bloomberg has the fascinating story of Inscatech, a network of food spies who try to out companies for food fraud and malpractice. And in related “say it ain’t so” news comes accusations that Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is allegedly cheating on its organic pledges. I must admit that Heath Bar Crunch tasted a lot better in the old days before the non-GMO promises. IMHO.